Tag Archives: PPP

CONSPIRACY: Charging Docs List “Co-Conspirators,” May Signal Omar Smith’s Cooperation In Ongoing Federal Investigations

Omar Smith

Federal prosecutors allege Omar Miguel Smith, Dale Holness’ longtime campaign guru, had help in his conspiracy to fraudulently obtain a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) COVID-19 relief loan, charging documents show. These same documents may signal that Smith is cooperating with Federal authorities in ongoing investigations. On Monday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida charged Smith with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, Smith faces up to thirty years in Federal prison.

In charging documents filed in U.S. Federal Court, prosecutors allege “co-conspirators” assisted Omar Smith in fraudulently obtaining a $215,500 PPP loan for his Florida company A Star For I, Inc. in June 2020. Prosecutors allege Smith agreed to pay 20% of the PPP loan to a co-conspirator for help obtaining the loan. On June 1, 2020 Omar Smith submitted an online loan application prepared by his co-conspirator.

According to the U.S. Attorney, “the loan application falsely stated that A Star For I had 30 employees and had an average monthly payroll of $85,000 a month.” To support these bogus claims, Smith submitted false IRS documents prepared by his co-conspirator that “falsely stated that in the first quarter of 2019 A Star For I paid wages of $255,000 and had withheld from those wages federal income tax of $24,040, social security tax of $31,620, and Medicare tax of $7,395.”

The PPP loan was approved one day later and $215,500 was transferred to the A Star For I bank account. Prosecutors state Smith transferred $42,500 to his co-conspirator on June 10, 2020 as payment for obtaining the PPP loan.

Between June 2020 and October 2020, Federal prosecutors allege Omar Smith “began issuing checks to persons in order to make it appear as if A Star For I had full-time employees and was complying with the conditions of the PPP loan.” Prosecutors claim “the persons receiving the checks did little, if any, work for A Star For I.”

Prosecutors have not named Smith’s co-conspirators.

REDBROWARD was first to report on Omar Smith’s suspect PPP loan in August 2020.

During the same time period, REDBROWARD exposed a similar suspect PPP loan obtained by Damara Holness, daughter of former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

Like Smith, Damara Holness used false documents to claim her Florida company employed workers with a hefty payroll when in reality, Holness Consulting Inc. had no employees. Using false payroll records, Damara Holness fraudulently obtained a $300,000 PPP loan.

Also like Omar Smith, Damara Holness wrote checks to associates who cashed the checks and returned the majority of the money to Holness. Prosecutors alleged Holness used dozens of people in this scheme. Last month, Damara Holness started a 20 month prison sentence in Mariana, Florida.

WAIVER OF INDICTMENT

Included in the charging documents filed Monday is a “waiver of indictment” which reads:

I understand that I have been accused of one or more offenses punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. I was advised in open court of my rights and the nature of the proposed charges against me.

After receiving this advice, I waive my right to prosecution by indictment and consent to prosecution by information.

In cases where punishment may be longer than one year, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure require a defendant be indicted by a grand jury. According to Federal criminal defense lawyers, Prosecutors may ask a defendant to waive the indictment requirement as part of a plea agreement which includes defendant’s cooperation in building cases against co-conspirators or other potential defendants.

It is unclear if Omar Smith is co-operating with Federal authorities. Damara Holness signed a similar waiver but a year later, prosecutors told a Federal Judge that Holness never co-operated and never revealed the whereabouts of $181,000 in cash.

Unlike Damara Holness, Omar Smith may have information that goes beyond PPP loan fraud.

As REDBROWARD documented for nearly ten years, Omar Smith played a major role in Dale Holness campaign operations. Smith helped form numerous controversial political action committees which aided Holness and his political allies. Smith used committees and other electoral processes to collect votes for Dale Holness and other favored candidates. Holness and Smith played key roles in the 2020 election which saw victories by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott, and others.

Additionally, sources tell REDBROWARD that Smith’s A Star For I company received large unapproved payments by a South Florida municipality for work he may not have performed. One source claims a city employee, who is Smith’s close, personal friend, arranged the payment.

More to come…

“MENTOR:” Why Did Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin Thank Dale Holness For Help Passing Tamarac Ordinances?

Elberg Mike Gelin wants to be the next mayor of Tamarac so why did he need Dale Holness’ help passing city ordinances? At last week’s poorly attended Holness For Congress campaign kickoff in Plantation, Dale Holness thanked his “good friend” Elberg Mike Gelin for showing up (late) to endorse his second campaign for the CD 20 seat. Holness said Gelin “worked to put many of the things we have built in Broward County into practice.” The former Broward County Commissioner said he and Gelin “collaborated over time.”

Elberg Mike Gelin called Dale Holness an “excellent leader” and his “mentor.” Gelin said Holness gave his “support in getting ordinances passed in Tamarac to benefit the minority community” such as a “disparity study to help women owned small businesses and black owned businesses” and making Juneteenth a paid city holiday.

Just one question: Why was Dale Holness interfering in Tamarac politics at all?

While serving as a Broward County Commissioner, Dale Holness represented the residents of District 9. Holness’ district was comprised of parts of Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderhill, Oakland Park, Plantation and Sunrise.

Dale Holness did not represent Tamarac residents.

But as REDBROWARD exposed over the last year, Team Holness tried to control all facets of Tamarac government. Both Gelin and fellow Commissioner Marlon Bolton (D-Clown) are close allies of Dale Holness.

Former interim City Attorney Hans Ottinot recently represented Holness in an ethics matter in Tallahassee.

Dale Holness’ commission aide, Anthony Bonamy, operates the fake news Tamarac Post website which regularly attacks opponents of Gelin and Bolton.

THEY SPEND A LOT OF MONEY

Curiously, Elberg Mike Gelin brought up his failed “disparity study” plan at the Holness event. In late February, Mayor Michelle Gomez and Tamarac Commissioners rejected Gelin’s $300,000 disparity study.

REDBROWARD exposed how Gelin’s wife, Shaheewa Jarret Gelin pushed for a costly disparity study to help her fledgling Black Chamber of Commerce on a podcast hosted by Ann Marie Sorrell, a relative of Dale Holness. Ms. Sorrell was one of the consultants seeking $300,000 from Tamarac taxpayers.

Sorrell was probably listening when Mrs. Gelin told her that “[Tamarac] spend[s] a lot of money!”

Dale Holness does not care about Tamarac taxpayers. Team Holness needs Tamarac votes because parts of the city lie within Congressional District CD 20. Last November, Holness was defeated by Sheila Cherfilus McCormick. Holness needs Gelin and Bolton’s help fooling Tamarac voters to pick him this August.

Do Tamarac voters really want a Holness puppet like Elberg Mike Gelin as mayor?

Take a peek over at Lauderhill. Before getting elected as County Commissioner, Dale Holness served on the Lauderhill Commission.

Holness will use Gelin and Bolton to remake Tamarac. Do Tamarac residents want the Dale Holness makeover?

Dale Holness Commission Aides Paid Big Bucks For Work On His Failed Congressional Race

Two Broward County government employees were paid big bucks for work on Dale Holness’ failed bid for U.S. Congress, Federal records show. Anthony Bonamy and Justin Porter served as commission aides for Dale Holness. While performing duties as taxpayer paid commission aides, companies tied to both men were paid by the Holness campaign.

ONE MILLENNIAL MEDIA

Last year, REDBROWARD detailed Anthony Bonamy’s ties to Dale Holness and his close ally Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton.

REDBROWARD revealed Bonamy created “Tamarac Post Media LLC” in July 2020. Weeks later the fake news Tamarac Post website was launched as “your source for local news, politics, entertainment, music, and fashion. We provide you with the latest breaking news and updates.” In reality, when the Tamarac Post isn’t posting news releases from the City of Tamarac public information department, it’s offering anonymous puff pieces about Dale Holness and Marlon Bolton.

REDBROWARD asked Anthony Bonamy why his company was behind a website shilling for a Tamarac politicians. While Bonamy claimed he did not “run” the website, he did admit he owned the website domain. Bonamy claimed he did not know who posted articles on the website. He said his wife was set to take over posting duties in April.

In April 2021, Bonamy was fired from his position as deputy clerk for the City of North Lauderdale after REDBROWARD exposed his ties to the Tamarac Post website.

On May 1, 2021, Tamarac Post Media LLC advised the State Of Florida that its new managing member was One Millenial Media LLC of Tamarac. Formed in November 2020, One Millenial Media LLC is managed by Violene Vil, the wife of Anthony Bonamy.

On May 27, 2021 REDBROWARD reported Bonamy had been hired as Dale Holness’ commission aide.

According to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), the Dale Holness for Congress campaign made eight payments to One Millenial Media LLC. The payments were for media production, community outreach, communications strategies, consulting on phone banking and canvassing. The Holness campaign paid $9,245 to the company owned by his commission aide’s wife.

PRIMETIME STRATEGIES

On June 3, 2021 Justin Porter of Pembroke Pines filed documents forming Primetime Strategies LLC. According to his social media accounts, Justin Porter worked for Commissioner Dale Holness for more than two years. From November 2019 to November 2020, Porter served as Holness’ “VIP Intern/Political Consultant.” Porter became Holness’ commission aide in December 2020. County campaign reports show Porter was paid $3,300 for work on Holness’ 2020 re-election campaign.

Just one month after forming Primetime Strategies, it received the first of fifteen payments from the Dale Holness for Congress campaign. The Holness campaign paid $37,281 to Porter’s brand new company for consulting fees, campaign operations and data management.

Primetime Strategies received multiple monthly payments between July 2021 and December 2021.

These totals may climb when the Holness for Congress campaign files new reports with the FEC.

This would not be the first time Dale Holness handsomely overpaid close associates for campaign work.

WHERE IS OMAR SMITH?

REDBROWARD has documented the close relationship between Dale Holness and his campaign guru Omar Smith.

Over the last decade, Holness paid tens of thousands of dollars to Omar Smith and his companies—A Star For I and Flyer Smith. Omar Smith operated several questionable political committees which promoted Dale Holness and his allies. Holness, Smith and Holness’ daughter Damara Holness were key components of Andrew Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Yet, despite their longtime working relationship, Omar Smith was missing from Holness’ FEC reports. What happened?

REDBROWARD reported one of Omar Smith’s companies received a $212,000 Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to save thirty jobs. In September 2021, REDBROWARD exposed Omar Smith’s A Star For I, Inc. company received a PPP loan despite collecting payments from Dale Holness and his allies during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the time, it appeared Smith applied for a PPP loan as a sole proprietor. Political insiders doubt Omar Smith’s company ever had a payroll with thirty employees.

Last August, REDBROWARD exposed Damara Holness’ laughable claim she owned a company with eighteen employees and a $1.4 million dollar payroll. Damara Holness used Dale Holness’ business address to obtain a $300,000 PPP loan.

Days later, REDBROWARD exposed how Richelle Holness, another daughter of Dale Holness, also received a PPP loan. Like Damara, Richelle Holness appears to be heavily involved in Dale Holness’ political operations. When REDBROWARD revealed Richelle Holness’ ties to a shadowy political committee, Omar Smith reached out to REDBROWARD to ask for a favor. With a female screaming in the background, Smith asked REDBROWARD TO redacte the name of Dale Holness’ ex-wife from the story.

In January 2022, Damara Holness was sentenced to twenty-months in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to the PPP loan. Despite her claim of cooperating with authorities, the U.S. Attorney stated Damara Holness never revealed the whereabouts of $181,000 in cash from her PPP loan scheme.

Though he lost the congressional race to Sheila Cherfilus McCormick, Dale Holness will try to unseat her in November.

At least his consultants won’t be on the public payroll this time. Well, let’s just wait and see on that one.